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White Sands National Park Amphibians

As might be expected in a monument in the middle of the desert, amphibians are not high on the visitor sighting lists. There are five species of toads to be found on this area, the great plains toad, red-spotted toad, and three spadefoot toads (Couches, plains and western).

They are seasonally abundant, depending upon rainfall for their feeding and mating activities. Heavy rainfall and/or thunder is the cue for emergence for the spadefoot toads, signalling the beginning of a short, intense mating season, with more than 90% of the breeding taking place on the first night following pond formation. Once the eggs are deposited and fertilized, hatching can occur in only 15 - 20 hours, the fastest rate of development of any North American anuran.

All are often common in rain pools following thunderstorms except the red-spotted toad, which is rare.

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Maine ocean islands provide the only nesting sites for Atlantic puffins in the United States. Eastern Egg Rock in the midcoast region, Seal Island and Matinicus Rock at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, and Machias Seal Island and Petit Manan Island off the downeast coast provide habitat for more than 4,000 puffins each summer.